To be entirely honest, I waffled quite a bit on the whole Nick Swisher – Xavier Nady question in spring training. While Swisher had better career numbers and was more likely to be a fit in the Yankee lineup, He was coming off a career worst season. Conversely, Nady was coming off his best year, and was seemingly just hitting his stride. Joe Girardi picked Nady, and I found it difficult to quibble with the decision, as Girardi assured us that both players would see plenty of time. However, Nady got injured in the first week, and the rest is history. Swisher started out red hot, and excepting one prolonged slump in May, has put forth an excellent season. However, as the Anthony McCarron’s article from this morning’s Daily News displays, his impact in the clubhouse has been just as important:
“Nick’s got a different personality, I would say, than we’ve seen on this club,” Andy Pettitte says. “Nick loves to talk, that’s for sure. He’s been fun to be around and very respectful, still. It’s just been a good situation.”
“He’s had an impact on the clubhouse,” adds Johnny Damon, whose locker is next to Swisher’s. “When I came over, I mean, this place was kinda dead, you know? I almost had to watch everything I said. I didn’t want to upset anyone. But having characters in here has helped everyone. It’s kind of like how Kevin Millar helped me in Boston – we changed the way things were in Boston, but it took another guy to put it full throttle.
“It’s completely different in here now. It’s great, we’re in this new stadium and there’s a lot of room to have fun.”
Swisher is regularly the most-fined player at the Yankees’ new Kangaroo Court, an every-so-often player meeting that metes out “justice” for infractions for such things as not wearing a shirt for television interviews. Swisher relishes his outlaw status – in a recent series in Baltimore, a shirtless Swisher asked reporters to wait a moment before starting an interview and turned to do a set of push-ups against his locker to “pump up” for the occasion.
Swisher draws praise from the Yankees for his charity involvement – some in the organization say he is by far the most active player in good-will missions. He has his own foundation and regularly entertains kids from the Make-A-Wish Foundation who visit the Yankee dugout during batting practice.
He went without a haircut for 11 months in 2007 so he could donate his hair to a charity that makes wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. His grandmother who raised him, Betty Swisher, a woman the Yankee calls the love of his life and inspiration, died of brain cancer in 2005.
Swisher treasures a picture that hangs in his locker of him sitting with Polly Tompkins, a 38-year-old first-grade teacher with melanoma who was the Yankees’ honorary bat girl during a charity drive this year. “She’s an inspiration,” Swisher says.
“Through life, the big man upstairs has given me so many things,” Swisher adds. “Whatever I can do to give people an opportunity or put a smile on their face, I really enjoy that.”
I strongly recommend that you read the entire article. It is a great profile of Swisher, and really shows how well he has fit into the clubhouse and changed the culture on a team that he become a bit too businesslike. As I said in the title, after reading this article, you gotta love Swish.
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